Dholes are classified as an endangered species by the IUCN

In about two to three months’ time, the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park (IGZP) will be the first zoo in the country to have a conservation breeding centre for the endangered wild dog or ‘dhole.’

Selected by the Central Zoo Authority to carry out this project at a cost of Rs. 50 lakh, the zoo authorities have earmarked an area on the premises for the centre.

Rise in numbers

After a series of successful in-breeding of wild dogs in the zoo, its population witnessed a massive increase within the protected area from just two to 22, the highest number of wild dogs in captivity in the country, according to current records.

Recently, two more litter of wild dogs were spotted at the wild dog enclosure, which is now being monitored to prevent disturbances. However, the number and gender of the litter are yet to be ascertained.

Similar in-breeding of wild dogs was carried out in zoos in Chennai and Mysore without much success.

Classified as endangered by the IUCN, wild dogs or ‘dholes’ are dwindling in numbers due to habitat loss, depletion of prey base, and destruction of forest corridors leading to fights with other predators and diseases from domestic and feral dogs.

Genetic profiling

The conservation centre in IGZP is expected to help in recovering the population of the endangered animals.

“To start with, a genetic profiling of the existing animals in the zoo will be done. Once the strong genes among them are identified, the conservation breeding process will be started through a series of measured steps.

The idea is to re-introduce the species in the wild later,” IGZP curator G. Ramalingam told The Hindu.

“Tenders have been called for the project. We have also issued circulars to hire a biologist for the project, which will be finalised soon,” he added.